My migrant worker parents were picking end-of-the-season hops in 1943 at Moxie, WA. School had already started when I entered the second grade.
Two boys I did not know asked me to leave the school grounds with them during lunch recess so they could buy some candy. I didn’t have money to spend but the boys shared with me. We lost track of time and the kids were in class when we returned. When the teacher asked, we did not lie about what we did.
He lined us up in front of the class and explained that he was going to give us a reminder. I wasn’t sure what to expect. We were told to take everything out of our back pockets. Many boys had red and white plaid hankies and a few had wallets. I had nothing so that was easy for me; but, I still didn’t know what to expect.
Teacher separated the first boy from us so he was facing an open space between his desk and the students’ desks. When he took a long wooden paddle from his desk drawer and said, “Reach down and touch your toes,” I knew what was next.
The crack of the paddle on tightened denim was impressive as he hacked the first boy. “Did that hurt?” the teacher asked.
The boy said, “Yes sir,” and was sent to his desk. It went the same for the second boy. He gave me my hack and asked the same question.
Being the new kid and stubborn, I did not want to appear weak. I said, “No.”
The teacher hacked me several more times and after each swat he asked the same question. I gave the same answer. The pain increased with each hit and I realized that if I wanted to sit without a constant reminder I’d better say, “Yes.”